ADL: New Vatican Document Is Further Evidence of the Church’s Commitment to Catholic-Jewish Relations

New York, NY, December 10, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the release by the Vatican of a new document on Jewish-Catholic relations, calling the announcement a “remarkable reaffirmation of the positive changes in the Church’s teaching about Jews and Judaism.”

The Vatican’s Commission For Religious Relations With The Jews announced a new document titled, “The Gifts And The Calling Of God Are Irrevocable,” which summarizes key points in the aftermath of the recent anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the landmark Vatican document that repudiated the 2,000 year history of anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church. The text addresses questions pertaining to Catholic-Jewish relations that have arisen in dialogue since the Second Vatican Council.

Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, issued the following statement:

This new Vatican document is a remarkable reaffirmation of the positive changes in the Church’s teaching about Jews and Judaism since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate 50 years ago. It is significant because it places a very clear emphasis on the rejection of the deicide charge, Christianity’s indebtedness to Judaism, the rejection of replacement theology, and the ongoing validity of the Jewish covenant with God.

The document also explores a number of challenging theological questions about the relationship between the two traditions, including the tension between the Church’s proclamation of the universal salvation through Christ and its affirmation of the Jewish covenant.

This is a rich document that requires careful study. Some issues like the lack of a more positive affirmation of the centrality of the State of Israel for Jews, or the suggestion that Jews can learn from Christianity’s universalism, will certainly be topics for our future dialogue. However, this step demonstrates that the remarkable process of reconfiguring the Church’s relationship with Judaism that began with Nostra Aetate is still a priority for the Church. As the document itself notes, we have become ‘reliable partners and even good friends.’

The notion that the Catholic Church considers its relationship with the Jewish people to be unique and essential to its own existence and self-understanding is a powerful testimony that a torturous history can be overcome when both our common humanity and differences are seen as sources of blessing.